Collins Foundation Final Report
Collins Foundation Final Report
1731 SE 10th Avenue
Portland, OR 97214
Date: July 2004
Purpose of the Grant
This grant helped fund the second phase of a larger three phase organizational expansion project designed to increase our impact in the community and increase our operational income to the point that all of our core programs are financially stable and self-sustaining.
PHASE I: Facility Expansion – increasing capacity for all major programs by improving the existing facility, adding additional classroom space, expanding recycling, production space and the thrift store (This phase funded by Oregon DEQ and the Meyer Memorial Trust).
PHASE II: Long Term Capacity Building - stabilizing and expanding our current programs to take advantage of increased facilities and increase revenue generation to the point of self-reliance (This phase funded by the Collins Foundation and the Meyer Memorial Trust).
PHASE III: Programs Expansion - funding two new projects that will help distribute the increased production of refurbished computer systems in ways that increase both our impact on the local community and our income stream (This phase funded by the Meyer Memorial Trust).
1. Collaborative Technology Project - Provides consulting services so that local non-profits can access to Open Source technology and training, reducing their technology costs.
2. Computers For Kids - Provides computers and education to "At-risk" youth in the Portland Metropolitan Area.
LONG TERM CAPACITY BUILDING
Long Term Capacity Building was designed to increase the overall through-put capacity of the Free Geek Community Technology Center. By hiring enough staff to coordinate the vast array of volunteers, it was felt that the main income streams of Salvage, Processing Fees and the Thrift Store could be increased to the point of fully supporting the costs of operations. The target date for achieving a self-sustaining
With the successful completion of the remodeling in Phase I, Free Geek has been expanding capacity over the past year, and with terrific results. We now have a staff of 12 plus 2-3 paid interns. Increased staffing allowed us to increase the capacity all of our main programs. We can accommodate more volunteers and the subsequent increased computer output and increased income has met or exceeded expectations. While it is still too soon to say that our self-sustaining funding is completely stable, we have experienced several months of break-even or better performance from our core program operations.
IMPACT ON THE COMMUNITY
Increased capacity has meant more volunteers can participate in our programs. We increased the total number of volunteers in our core programs by 145% (2,123 in previous 12 month period vs. 3,071 during program period). over the previous 12 month period. The number of Adoption Program participants increased by 131% (1,438 to 1,890) and the number of Build Program participants increased by an impressive 172% over the previous 12 month period (685 to 1,181). Please refer to Appendix A for more detailed data.
The production of computers has also increased as predicted. Production numbers meet the needs of the increased Adoption Program need and produced the expected surplus for non-profit hardware grants. This program has exceeded all expectations. We are able to grant a significant amount of hardware to non-profits every month. Key factor was the implementation of Request Ticket software that helps keep the project organized and responses to requests timely and professional. The Hardware Grants group averages 35 computers each month to non-profit organizations. Please refer to Appendix A for more detailed data.
IMPROVED FINANCIAL STABILITY AND SUSTAINABILITY
The grant funding provided by both the Meyer Memorial Trust and the Collins Foundation allowed to increase our staffing levels well beyond our own ability to pay for them through our operational income. The goal was to increase operational income to meet these program increases by the end of the funding cycle. Over the two years plus course of the project, Free Geek has been steadily increasing our operational income. We are happy to report that we have achieved some measure of sustainability and are hopeful that this is a trend that will continue into the future. As part of this report there are several financial and program performance charts that help to illustrate these achievements which are attached in Appendix A. The financial performance indicators are part of trends that begin before the grant period and end after the grant period, but are very important to understanding the overall context of our achievements.
Starting in the 3rd quarter of 2003, Free Geek received a combination of $137,718 in grant funding from the DEQ and Meyer Memorial Trust. $35,000 was earmarked for equipment and remodeling projects, while the remaining $102,718 was targeted for staff expansion and growing two new programs. During the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2003, staffing was increased XXX%, health care benefits were added and the two new programs: Computers for Kids and Collaborative Technologies (Collab) were started. All projects started off well and as predicted. However, by the 2nd quarter of 2004, we began to realize that the Collab project was not proceeding as predicted. Several mis-judgements regarding scope of work and payments to sub-contractors had begun to develop into serious problems. These problems were beginning to affect our cash reserves and steps were taken to get these problems under control. Even with corrective measures, our reserve funds were used up and we began to show a negative balance. During the 3rd quarter of 2004, we received the $35,000 grant from the Collins Foundation and $xx,xxx in additional matching funds from the Meyer Memorial Trust. These funds were again allocated for staffing costs.
With the infusion of funds, our cash reserve was once more in the black and we seemed to be back on track. At this time, two problems occurred. First, we experienced a significant (and unpredicted) drop in operational income. Second, the financial problems with the Collab project had reappeared and in the 4th quarter of 2004, our financial obligations once again reduced our cash reserves into negative territory. As we were heading into the 2005, we realized that our operational income was not going increasing at a fast enough rate to meet the program goals.
With the realization that operational costs had grown at a rate that was not sustainable, measures were taken to reduce operational costs and further increase the rate at which we were growing our operational income. The reduction methodologies included a 5% pay cut for all staff and cuts to some volunteer rewards programs. The operational income increases were accomplished through increased efficiencies and as a result, recycling income, donation income and sales income were all increased significantly.
By the 3rd quarter of 2005, we had accomplished both goals of reducing expenses and increasing our operational income so that we were operating in the black. This trend did not quite continue into the 4th quarter, but a modest amount of fund raising more than adequately made up the small difference between operational income and expenses. By the end of 2005 we had gone from a fund deficit of over $30,000 (in the 1st quarter of 2005) and built it into a more than $10,000 cash reserve. Overall, the trends are all heading in positive directions and a cash reserve is again in place, with all indicators pointing to a sustainable future.
OUTCOMES OF THE GRANT
In almost every category, the expansion grant results have turned as good or better than expected. The main focus of expanding capacity was a huge success, with increased donations from the public; increased traffic and sales income in the thrift store; and a doubling of the number of volunteers that can access the program.
Computers for Kids
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